Stay for cupcakes.
Die for love.
Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings.
None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind.
Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Andrea K Höst and Netgalley.)
Madeline wakes to find herself trapped in an underground train station. There seems to have been an explosion of some kind, and everything is covered in dust.
Managing to escape, and trying not to look at the dead bodies surrounding her, Madeline escapes by following the tunnels to the next station. This is not a simple bomb though, instead a huge black spike rises above Sydney.
Making her way to her cousin’s apartment, Madeline washes then turns on the news. Similar spires have also turned up in large cities all around the world, and with them this odd dust. Exposure to the dust seems to result in odd blue or green discolouration of the skin, and raging hunger, which Madeline realises she has.
Most people seem to be dying from the dust, but Madeline survives. She’s very blue though. Apart from her neck and most of her face, she is a deep velvet blue with tiny twinkling stars.
Venturing outside the apartment in search of food, Madeline meets another girl called Noi who has also survived, and is also somewhat blue.
Together, Madeline and Noi set about carrying on after this strange apocalyptic type event, helping those people that are still alive, and trying to figure out what to do next.
Unfortunately the instigators of this whole mess then turn up – some sort of aliens who want to collect the people that have turned blue, and use them in a body-snatcher type of way.
Can Madeline and her new-found friends avoid the Aliens for long enough to survive? What exactly do the aliens want anyway? And how long until this nightmare is over?
I was totally in two minds about this book, because there were parts that I really liked, and parts that were just okay. I liked the idea of everyone turning blue with stars. I had never come across something like that before, and found the idea interesting.
The biggest problem I found with this book is that I would read something, and think ‘I’m supposed to know about this already?’, so then I would go back a bit, and read through again to see if I missed something, but not be able to find it. This happened to me a few times, and it started to annoy me. I really hate when a story suddenly starts talking about something as if you’re supposed to know about it already, when you have absolutely no chance of knowing it already because they haven’t told you. I did wonder if this was just me not paying enough attention or something, but the more it happened, the more I decided it wasn’t.
As I said, some parts I liked – I have been loving dystopians this year, but then other parts I just found a bit boring, and that’s how the book progressed. It was a bit like one of those ‘sine’ curves you get in maths – up, down, up, down etc. and that was half the problem, because some of the ups were brilliant, and some of the downs were just bad. At 47% I couldn’t drag myself away from it, then at 87% I was having serious trouble convincing myself to finish, which with only 13% left, shouldn’t really have been an issue. I’m sure you’ve all read books like this and know how annoying they are.
I have to say that I wasn’t expecting the sex scene. The book was very PG up until then, and the couple in question had only really kissed once previously, (and it was the girls first kiss), and then suddenly the prophylactics are coming out! Nothing really wrong with this; it was just a little unexpected! (Oh, and I didn’t need to know if their private bits had turned blue either – as interesting an idea as this was – ick! Too Much Information.)
Another moan (sorry about this), but this book is long. It says on amazon and goodreads – 204 pages. NO WAY! On my kindle fire, smallest font size, it is easily double that, and believe me, when you’re going through those low points, it feels long.
I also have to say that this was the first post-apocalyptic type book that I have read where there are no problems with modern technology. Not only did the people in this story continue to have hot and cold running water, electricity, heating etc, they still had the internet, television, and even twitter, which put a bit of a different spin on things. How bad can things be if you still have the internet?
So where does that leave me – again in two minds. At 47% I would have said 4 stars, at 87% I just wanted it to be over! So confusing. This book has loads of original ideas, I mean literally heaps of originality, and it is well-written. At times I really didn’t want to put this down it was so engaging, and I really liked the fact that the characters weren’t all Caucasian, and that this book was set in Sydney. If it wasn’t for the slow parts this would have definitely been an 8 out of 10 for me, but I just can’t overlook those low points.
6 out of 10.